Teachings: Mitzvah Guidance

Guide to Choosing a Jewish Name

This article teaches how to identify the right Jewish name for yourself, or for your child.

Understanding Kaddish and El Maleh Rachamim

Saying kaddish is very helpful for the mourner and it is important to someone who is dying to know an actual family member or person they have designated who knew them personally will be their "kaddishele," the person saying kaddish for him/her.

Kaddish is written in Aramaic, the language of the Jewish people during  the rabbinic period (when we lived under the Greeks and Romans). It's comforting cadence takes on the quality of a mantra. There are many types of Kaddishes - Kaddish Shalem (whole kaddish), Hatzi Kaddish (abbreviated kaddish), Yaddish Yatom (Mourner's Kaddish) and Kaddish D'rabbanan (Scholar's Kaddish) are the most well know. A rendition of the meaning I find in the words of the Mourners Kaddish is listed below the Aramaic transliteration.

Experiencing the Shabbat Moment

A Shabbat Moment Visualization by Joyce Reinitz

In the final two chapters of the Book of Exodus we witness the actual building and dedication of the Mishkan (sanctuary). The imagery is rich, the colors are vibrant and the details are mesmerizing. This is the description of the place where God's Presence will dwell among the people.

Vayakheyl begins with Moses reiterating the commandment of Shabbat:
"On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest."

The Bat Mitzvah Girl Who Loved Horses

Are there tasteful limits for B'nei Mitzvah? B Mitzvah! The Bar/Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues here

There was a twelve-year-old girl who loved horses. She was preparing to become bat mitzvah and insisted on horseback rides for her friends in the synagogue parking lot as well as centerpieces with famous horses depicted upon them. She also wanted to wear her riding hat when she read Torah. What to do? What’s a parent or rabbi to say?

Reb Goldie: “Ashley, I’m so impressed by your love of animals, especially horses, that I’ve brought you some information from Judaism about animals and horses.”

How to Hang a Mezuzah

PREPARATION 

1. If possible do this as a room or home dedication--Hanukkat HaBayit, Dedication of the House, by inviting friends to participate with their presence. The root of Hanukkat, like Hanukkah, is חָנַך ha-nakh, which also means education and consecration. It's nice to do this on a Saturday night, after offering a Havallah ceremony to end Shabbat.

Is genetic sex selection of children permitted in Judaism?

Question: What is the Jewish perspective on genetic sex selection of children?

Creating New Jewish Ritual for a Big Birthday

I've never been one to hold birthday parties for myself, but turning sixty felt like the time had finally arrived. I needed a way to transition my soul's balking sense of terror. Where did all of the equanimity from my meditation and other spiritual practices go in the face of all that? How to push through towards hopefully, the gift of a new decade? [video coming soon]

2015 Omer Calendar in Color

Also attached to this page also as full size color pdf.

Introduction to the Omer: 49 Days of Jewish Spiritual Practice

The Omer comprises 49 days, paralleling the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness, which in Torah comes the day after Passover begins, and ends with receiving Torah on Shavuot.

Originally, the omer was the measure of wheat brought as a donation of harvest gratitude to feed the Temple workers in ancient Israel. As our need for renewal of spirit builds in these troubling times, the Jewish spiritual renaissance continues unabated.

Creating a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton April 8-10

The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) & Beth Emet of Evanston, IL are co-sponsoring a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton

Creating a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton April 8-10

The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) & Beth Emet of Evanston, IL are co-sponsoring a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton

Tashlich, Including a New Games and Environmental Lens



Teaching Tashlich through a New Games and Environmental Lens
by Rabbi Dr. Goldie Milgram; Photo Credit: "Magenetic Waves" (c) 2016 Barry Bub

Transformations of the Soul: The Tahara Experience

First Published in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice

Judaism most often approaches the soul's many transformations on the "journey called life" by including rituals of chessed. These involve expressions of overflowing loving kindness via water, washing, immersion.

Story of How a Psychiatrist Used Jewish Spirituality To End a Serious Depression

Have you ever felt almost unrecognizable to yourself? Like a cartoon character whose several sheets of transparencies had gotten out of alignment? Just like in the many stories of dysfunctional families in the Torah, in the torah of your life have you also wandered in a wilderness state of consciousness?  

Understanding the Kaddish, the Jewish Mourner's Prayer

The term Kaddish, derives from the same root as kedushah, holiness. Though the Kaddish never mentions death or loss, the most well-known is the Mourner’s Kaddish, which has come to be associated with memorializing the death of someone close to you.

Introduction to Tefillin and How to Put Them On

How are Tefiillin made?

Tefillin are a set of two leather boxes filled with parchments on which a scribe has written specific verses from the Torah, then attached the boxes to leather straps, each knotted so that one can go around your head and one around your weaker [non-dominant] arm. It is quite complex to make Tefiillin, and one is best served by buying good quality ones made by a scribe. The term tefillin (Aramaic) shares the root of tefillah, prayer.

What's Involved in Converting to Judaism

a. It is a process to which a soul feels internally called.

b. This feeling may rise and fall, or ultimately abate. It may turn out that your soul needed to learn about Judaism, experience it and then return to another tradition or move on to another religion, no religion, or a different denominational context. There will be no hard feelings about this among your teachers, soul journeys vary in every life time.

c. Converstion involves a minimum of a year of study and engagement with the core practices of living as a Jew. During this time you will:

Must we use wine in Jewish ritual?

What is the significance of wine in Jewish Ritual?

Dear Rabbi:

I'm know a couple who doesn't want wine or grape juice used for the wedding blessings. What's your opinion about this? Is there a good and honorable substitute?

with appreciation, Rabbi C

Dear Rabbi C:

a. I have had occasion to serve a congregation that often used a cluster of large purple grapes for all "wine-"related blessing moments due to the number of recovering alcoholics in that "bunch."